February 13th, 2017
New Orleans, LA was the final destination today. For me, this was one of the most anticipated stops of the whole trip. Well, besides Vegas because.. Vegas. More on that later. Starting in Savannah, this was about 10 total hours of driving, and my copilot today was Jon, which meant a whole hell of a lot of dubstep being played through a bluetooth speaker that we bought for $20 at Sheetz. Speaking of Sheetz, the west coast doesn’t have WaWa, Sheetz, or Rutters. This place needs to step up its gas station food game.
We decided early on that the four of us wanted to stop in Tallahassee to sight see, which conveniently was about the halfway point. So after spending about an hour taking in the glory of waking up literally on a beach, we begrudgingly got in our respective vehicles to start the ten hour haul.
The best thing about practically living out of your car, and not wanting to spend the extra money on a hotel room is finding places to wash your hair and face, like, gas stations and rest stops. Screw the weird looks people give you. Right? Right. So we stopped about 20 minutes out of Savannah at a non-main brand gas station, and took turns walking into the restroom to change and get sink showers. It was pretty glorious, and the first of many times this would happen.
Off we went. As soon as we crossed the border into Florida, the only thing on my mind was spotting a crocodile. Alligator. Whichever, I probably wouldn’t have been able to tell the difference in person anyway. We were driving in Florida for probably 300 miles (this is a COMPLETE guess, I really have no idea) and not a single one. You’re a disappointment, Florida.
What we did see however, were a great number of ‘Bear Crossing’ signs. Seriously, like ten of them. Was this really a problem? I mean I don’t pay attention to the news in Florida, but were there really so many accidents involving cars striking bears on the highway that it warranted a sign? Also these signs weren’t the common ‘Next 3 miles’ signs either. They averaged around ‘Next 50 miles’. How large is the bear population in this state? Why are they on the roads? How do people not see them? I have so many questions.
“Legend has it that if you spot the bear, they inch the signs closer to one another” -Jon
Another weird Florida road sign: Stay off the Median. Okay so that doesn’t sound so weird. I’ve seen plenty of these around in PA and all over the places that we have traveled. What made this different, is the fact that they were placed in such strange places here. Like, places where you most certainly are NOT going to be on the median. For example: There was a section of highway that was completely cut off from the oncoming traffic by a small forest. Stay off that median. Never mind the trees that would wreck your day if you tried to get on the median. Ignore that. Stay off. These signs were posted about once per mile. I’ve been rambling about road signs here for a minute, but it just seemed so absurd.
Tallahassee is a pretty dope city. We stopped by the campus of Florida State, which was bustling and neat to check out, and the whole place has a very surfer-esque vibe to it, which I guess makes sense. There was also some cool architecture here, but I didn’t enjoy it as much as Savannah.
At this point we were all decently hungry, so we decided to stop at a restaurant none of had eaten at before, a place called “Which Wich”. I’m not sure if this is a place that is specific to the southern states, or what, but I had never had it before. is the BOMB. It’s basically a much higher quality Subway, with a ton more options. They also make their own potato chips which were decent. If you ever get the chance, I’d highly recommend it.
The best thing that happened in our stop at the capital of Florida is what happened as we were leaving after lunch. It would become a recurring inside joke for.. well it still is. Okay, are you ready?
As we were walking back to the Falcon, we were approached by a man who claimed to be homeless. Although, this man was wearing a fully put together outfit, looked clean shaven, and just in general did not have the demeanor of a homeless person. So he walks up to us and says the following. This is verbatim, I remember it exactly because I’ve repeated this sentence at least a thousand times since then.
“Yo fam, real recognize real, right?” We look at each other, laugh slightly and nod. “Aight cool bros, uh, well here’s the thing. Me and my wife, we be living out uh hotels and shit right now and we just need some money to maybe buy some stuff, like another hotel room or some shit. So like, yall got any change or whatever?”
That is word for word, exactly how he phrased everything. It took all of the willpower contained in my body to not laugh in his face, but I kept my composure and replied with a simple “Naw homedawg, we broke too.” Before quickly getting in the car and ready to get out of Florida.
The rest of the drive through Florida, and the small parts of Alabama and Mississippi were rather uneventful, and we arrived in New Orleans around 10pm. Although it had only been a few days, we still decided to splurge on a hotel this night, because we planned on staying two days in the city. This ended up being way more expensive then we thought, due to the fact that both of our cars received parking tickets in the morning. Oops. Sorry NOLA.
Our hotel was nice, it was about a five minute walk from the French Quarter and Bourbon street. Unfortunately, we planned awfully and showed up about a week and a half before Mardi Gras. Next time, next time. Another fun fact about our hotel, we chose to get a room without a window (to save money, duh) so we were pretty surprised when we walked in and there were curtains covering.. a window? Except that I opened it up and was greeted with my face and a glass wall. Why? Why put a mirror there.
So from what I remember about Bourbon street, it was pretty crazy. In fact, New Orleans as a whole is pretty crazy. I don’t know how people live there full time, so if anyone is reading this that lives in this party city please feel free to send me your day to day routine. Every single moment that I was there, there was someone walking down the street chugging a 40. I’m talking 7am when we went to breakfast, to 11pm when we were the drunken idiots.
Honestly though, Bourbon street is poppin. Go there if you can. There are tons of people walking around, brightly lit signs, kareoke bars, strip clubs, casinos, and all sorts of other fun things to do. We spent most of our time walking up and down the street checking out various bars and what not on the way. Obviously Jon and I checked out a ‘Gentlemen’s’ Clubs that Ryan wasn’t allowed in to (foreshadowing?)
Here’s the thing about the French Quarter though. You’re going to get conned. It happened to us twice, and we hate ourselves for it, but you live and you learn. We mostly laugh about it now but.. ugh. The first scam came in the form of brightly colored shots. As we were walking and talking near the beginning of this festival street, we heard a call from across the way.
“You guys look like you could use some shots! Come on over!”
Ryan looks up, and bolts across. We all follow, ready to start the night, and the lady looks at us, cards none of us (which everyone except Jon looks like a child so that’s something), proceeds to fill up three beakers, put the bottom side in her own mouth, and then motion for us to open up. She then dumps the liquid into our mouths from hers, and honestly I can’t express to you all how awkward this was. I’ve spent the last ten minutes trying to put it into words and nothing really gave it justice. Just know that it was really, really weird. After all four of us took the strange shots, she looks at us, and tell us the total. $75, thats what she wanted. For some strange reason, we actually paid the woman. I still wonder why to this day, we could have walked away and never worried about it again.
The next scam happened strictly to Jon and Ryan, at two separate times. At some point we had gotten separated from each other, where I was with Ryan, and Jon and Lauren were together somewhere else. A middle aged man walks up to Ryan and tells him that he can guess what kind of shoes he is wearing, and asks that if he gets it right, we pay him a few dollars or whatever change we had. Well first of all he was wearing Vans, that say Vans right on the front of the shoe, so that wasn’t happening. But we were.. in a different state of mind at the time, and figured why not let him try to guess and then walk away. Kind of rude, but we did it anyway.
This guy bends down, and from what seemed like out of nowhere pulled out this weird jelly like substance, slaps it on Ryan’s shoes and starts trying to shine them. Keep in mind, these are cloth top shoes so really it just stained them pretty bad. Both of us are pretty much in too much shock to move so the guy just kind of.. shined Ryan’s shoes for a few minutes before getting up and asking for $5 for his services. Again, Ryan gave him the money. No idea why. I walked away before he could even attempt it on me, then about an hour later, the same things happened to Jon. Although Jon didn’t give him the money, so at least that went right.
Soon after this, Ryan and Lauren got tired and went back to the hotel to head to sleep. Jon and I stayed out for another few hours, where we went to a casino and I blew $100 in an hour. Good call, Dakota. Good call.
We spent the next morning exploring the city. If anyone is a fan of the CW’s “The Originals” we spent a good portion of our morning checking out the various spots in the city that are featured in the television show. We also took a ferry across the river/lake to get lunch on the other side. This was my first experience on a ferry, and it was way cool. Living in Seattle, I’ve ridden quite a few of them since then and have gotten used to the way they feel, but the first time was definitely different.
After spending a few hours sightseeing, we walked back to the cars (found the parking tickets and cried a little), and tried to get out of the city and on the road to Dallas. Fun fact, getting out of New Orleans sucks. Seriously, it took us a full hour just to get out of the city limits. Google Maps doesn’t seem to understand cities. It’s very frustrating.
Soon however, we were on the road to Dallas. Come back soon and hear the tale!